Community Players’ Calendar Girls opens this weekend

Calendar Girls, billed as a funny true story based on a sad event, and presented by Community Players of Salisbury, will open on Friday.

Shows will be at 8 p.m. Friday, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, at 8 p.m., Saturday, April 27 and at 2 p.m., Sunday, April 28.

All performances will be at Guerrieri Hall on the campus of Wor-Wic Community College.

Written by Tim Firth, it focuses on a group of British women who belong to a civic organization.

When one’s husband becomes ill and dies of leukemia, the women decide to organize a memorial fundraiser for the local hospital and end up making a pin-up calendar featuring nude photos of some of them, their private parts obscured by foliage, bowls of fruit, pastries and household objects.

They are surprised when the calendar becomes wildly popular and raises millions of dollars, making them minor celebrities.

Because leukemia is central to the story, Community Players will donate part of the proceeds to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Maryland.

“Blood cancers are a quiet but important problem on the Eastern Shore. We are happy to use this opportunity to help the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in its good work of funding research, educating the public and providing assistance to patients and their families,” Sharon Benchoff, director, said.

“We are grateful to the Community Players of Salisbury, and the greater Salisbury Community, for your involvement and contributions to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society,” Jonathan V. Wilson, executive director of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Maryland, said.

“Your support helps LLS fund research. Together we are creating a world without blood cancer. We have seen extraordinary progress in treatments and even cures for blood cancers, thanks to fundraising events in communities across the state, such as that by the Community Players of Salisbury. Their support to LLS is essential to making sure we continue to advance research and ensure access to treatments to help save more lives,” he said.

Benchoff said having two physicians and a nurse in the cast brings out the medical aspect of the story.

Kim Cuesta, a pathologist, will make her stage debut as Annie, the wife of the leukemia patient.

“Fortunately, childhood leukemia is rare, and most cases seen on the Shore are treated at referral centers in the big cities,” Cuesta said.

“We see many cases of other blood cancers, such as myeloma, and lymphomas which are treated locally. I frequently work with our hematologist-medical oncologists in interpreting biopsies and arranging for appropriate testing. Playing Annie brings my real work to me in a new way,” she said.

Locally a well-known childhood leukemia patient was Ben Layton, who died at age 4 and is memorialized at Ben’s Red Swings playground in City Park. Ben’s aunt, Dr. Katherine Layton, a local pediatrician, said her family “has long valued the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society, and continue to support them in the annual Ben Layton 5K run.”

“We are pleased that Community Players is using their production to raise money for LLS and raise awareness of blood cancers in the community.”

Meanwhile, auditions for the Community Players of Salisbury production of The Drowsy Chaperone will be Sunday, April 22, at 2 p.m. and Monday, April 23  and Tuesday, April 24, at 7 p.m. at the Community Players Workshop on Nutters Cross Road.

There are parts for eight men and five women, aged 20 to 70, plus six adults ensemble. For more information see Dr. Kel Nagel is director.

The play will be presented June 22, 23 and 24 at Wicomico High School.



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